Marc Gleeson – “I was held for 21 hours for peacefully protesting.”

I was downtown Toronto on Saturday June 26th 2010. I live in Whitby Ontario, and took the go train into Danforth station and the subway into the Yonge/Bloor subway station. I made my way with a friend […] to the 25,000 person union march. We marched with the large peaceful group. The march ended we ate food and returned to my friends condo located at yonge and wellesley. We remained here until about 9pm, we saw reports of peaceful protests occurring along bloor and heading south.

At this point we left the condo and headed south on yonge street. Our goal was to make it as south as possible then begin our journey east as far out of the city as possible to eventually get a ride back home to whitby as all of the public transportation was inoperative. On our journey south, we ran into a large group of people at the corner of bay and king. The people were surrounded by a large group of riot police, the group was sitting on the sidewalk singing. Eventually the police granted the people passage. The large group(approx 1500-2000) then headed east on bay towards church, we walked with this group as they were extremely peaceful and non confrontational and it was unsafe to be alone around so many police.

Once on church the large group headed south towards front, took a right on front and started heading west back towards bay, a standoff occurred at the corner of front and bay. Until the group headed south on bay, and then east on esplanade as the end of bay was blocked with a large number of officers. While on the esplanade riot police approached from the east, while people scrambled for side streets, more riot police boxed us in from the west. The crowd was extremely peaceful and non confrontational with the police. Once having us completely surrounded they slowly moved closer and a closer, telling us we can leave but not actually offering any passage. The group then sat down at this point while some stood on the sidewalk. The media was blocked off from entering this scene, but people were in constant contact with cp24, ctv, etc.

The police circled us, holding us offering no explanation for about an hour, after an hour they began to pick of certain people from the crowd. These people seem targeted, and they were removed rather violently, shields to peoples faces as they sit on the ground with peace signs in the air. I saw many baton strikes to the faces of non resisting people. After removing the targeted people they announced to the 600 or so people remaining that we would be peacefully arrested. The police then slowly one by one continued to pick people from the crowd. We were corralled at 11pm, the first arrest started around 11 30. I was detained at about 12 45. I was grabbed by two Toronto police officers, I notified them that I am surrendering and not resisting, I informed them that I have had serious shoulder injuries to both of my shoulders and asked them to show restraint when cuffing me. The officers laughed and decided to twist and contort my arms in an extremely painful manner.

I was handcuffed, searched, had all of my information taken and all of my property placed in a property bag. I was told I was being arrested for breach of peace. I was placed in the back of a paddy wagon with five other males on our side and, 6 more on the other side. We were driven around the corner and then loaded onto a bus, the bus had more passengers than available seats and people were forced to sit on the floor handcuffed. We arrived at the film studio detention center, we sat on the bus for some time before being taken off, my hands were zip tied extremely tight in front of me, I had to use the bathroom in an extreme way, I was told to “piss myself cause you smell like shit anyway.”

I was taken past a bunch of cells containing many people to cell number OL6. The cell is a 10×20 steel cage with a single bench at one end and a out house style toilet at the other. When I arrived at my cell there were approx. 25 people in it. Over the next hour or so more people were added to our cell until the total reached 39 people. There was not enough room for everyone to lay down or even all stand comfortably, one officer walked by and asked if were in “Auschwitz”. I asked many officers when I would be able to call a lawyer and was never given any kind of reasonable answer. We asked to have people moved from our cell to cells around us containing only between 3-8 people. Our requests were denied. We explained to the officers that a 16 year old kid was in our cell, explaining he should be moved. Our requests were denied. We asked for food and water. Our requests were denied.

Approx. 4 hours after being placed into our cell we were given a cheese sandwich and small cup of water, this took considerable begging, screaming and general harassment until or requests were obliged. The 40 people in our cell took turns laying down and standing up. The floors were filthy dirty with green paint, the newly installed air conditioners were blowing full blast all night, no blankets or bedding were offered. No dry clothes were offered. After 6 hours the young offender was finally removed from our cell. We continued to explain to every officer that walked by that 39 people were in our cell, noone provided any information offered any help for the over crowding issues. Even though cells were basically empty all around us.

We would ask for water only to be completely ignored, or have some but not enough cups for everyone delivered up to about an hour and a half later. 10 hours after we were placed in our cell they finally moved 20 people to another cell. During this time they kept saying we were just waiting to be processed, lawyers and phone calls were denied throughout this entire time.

The mood was dark and violent in the film studio, screams of pain and screams for help could be hear throughout the facility, girls crying hysterically, people begging for medical attention, people begging for lawyers. The average attitude of the police services officers in charge of us was disrespectful and intimidating. I feared for my safety the entire time, the police threatened to “disappear us” if we didn’t stop asking for water, lawyers or any of our rights.

The afternoon continued on with the same treatment, with water and food after hours of begging. Finally at around 6pm, they began taking people from our cell one by one. Our person were numbered, the cells were numbered, our evidence bags were numbered, yet they had no system to keep track of everyone, they slowly wandered from cell to cell asking for last names. Many people were sleeping and the officers would quickly mumble a name and move on.

My name was called around 8pm, I was lead through the entire facility, past row upon row of people locked up. I was lead to a cell at the back of the facility with 4 other people in it. After about 5 minutes a staff sergeant came up to the cage, read us a statement from a sheet of paper, told us if we ever are caught protesting again we would be locked up for sometime. They then lead us one at a time out of the cell, my picture was taken again, and I was walked to a door. They never explained where I was, I asked if trains were running and I was given no answer. I was told not to talk to the media or the crowd gathered across the street or I risk being arrested again.

I walked outside into pouring rain, I was lost, unable to communicate with media or the crowd around me and on my own. I was never given the opportunity to speak with a lawyer. I was never interviewed by any kind of police, I was never allowed to explain my actions. I was held for 21 hours for peacefully protesting. Many of my rights were violated. Mr prison number was 1612, I have my property bag but no paperwork or any documentation on why I was detained.

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